Gillian Robertson will meet Miranda Maverick on the early preliminary card of UFC 260 this Saturday in a bout that has ramifications for the women’s flyweight division.
Robertson (9–5) is coming off a loss, but she is still ranked 15th in the division, and a convincing win would give her the chance to jump 14th-ranked Maycee Barber. Maverick (8–2, unranked) has won her past four fights, and there is a lot at stake here for her, as well, since she’d likely jump Robertson in the rankings with a victory.
This fight was originally scheduled to take place at UFC 258, but was called off the day of the card due to a non-COVID-19-related illness for Robertson. It should be a fantastic clash of styles, particularly watching Robertson’s jiu-jitsu against Miranda’s striking.
Speaking with Sports Illustrated, Robertson discussed the challenges Maverick presents, her game plan for the fight, and the chase of women’s flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko.
Sports Illustrated: This fight was originally scheduled for UFC 258 but was canceled on the day of the event. Is it difficult to get so close to a fight and then have it postponed?
Gillian Robertson: Honestly, that was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do in my career. It was heartbreaking. I’ve never had to pull out of a fight before.
I was feeling absolutely great the night before. I was shadow-boxing in my hotel room, excited for the next day. Then I woke up at 4 in the morning feeling ill, which continued until about 1 in the afternoon. We were supposed to leave for the venue at 2. My coach tried to get me moving, but I was in no condition to fight.
My coach made the decision for me. I wanted to go out on my shield, but he had my record and career in mind, and he made the decision.
SI: With you feeling so ill, it sounds as if trying to have the fight would have been a mistake.
GR: My coach said that to me. At the end of the day, no one would have cared if I were sick. All that would have mattered was the loss on my record.
SI: This is a fight that should stand out. Miranda Maverick’s power makes her such a threat, both in terms of striking and the ability to overpower an opponent in the clinch. She also can finish, looking to maul her opponent on the mat. What do you respect most about Maverick?
GR: She’s very well-rounded. She’s a gamer, she’s down to scrap, she’s down to fight. And she’s always so active, like me—I see her in grappling competitions—so we share a similar style. I have a lot of respect for her, and this is a great matchup. But I have a little more experience and an extra edge, and I see this going my way.
SI: Maverick’s progression will likely have her in title contention by next year, unless you stand in her way. What is the key to victory in this fight?
GR: My strength is my jiu-jitsu, but my goal is to make her uncomfortable everywhere. I honestly think she’s going to shoot on me, and if she does, then welcome to my world.
SI: This bout is a tremendous clash of styles. You are a constant threat on the mat and an elite, top-of-the-division grappler, while Maverick’s striking is vicious. So much of your offense is built on takedowns, but how much have you prepared for Maverick’s standup game?
GR: I’m working every day to become a complete mixed martial artist. Jiu-jitsu is my strong point, and that’s where I can finish the fight, but every fight starts on the feet, so I have to get her down there. I’m working every single day to make sure I set up my takedowns right, but if I don’t, I can still come back and strike. That’s my goal: do damage.
SI: Will another key be wrestling Maverick up against the cage?
GR: That’s a big aspect. Obviously, being in the Apex, it’s a smaller cage [25 feet across, as opposed to the usual 30 feet], so it makes it a little bit easier to get your back up against it. But it’s all about keeping her on ice, keeping her constantly guessing. That’s the game plan, go in there and keep her constantly on the defensive, then work in my shots.
SI: Part of what makes you so well-rounded a fighter is your intelligence. If Maverick uses a similar game plan to the one Maycee Barber used against you, keeping you at range and attacking you with strikes, will you be ready to counter?
GR: I’m a different fighter since that fight [against Barber in 2019]. Like you said, every single fight, I’m learning. I’m in camp 365 days a year. There is not a single day I take off. I’m always working, always making sure I’m getting better and getting ready for a title run.
SI: Barber just lost to Alexa Grasso in February, so there is an opportunity to elevate yourself with a victory. Do you know who you’d call out after a win?
GR: I’m not picky. It doesn’t matter to me. I want to be champ. I want to be a dominant champ. If I want to be that, then I have to beat able to beat any girl in this division. Whoever they put in front of me, I’m taking it.
SI: Chasing Valentina Shevchenko is no easy task. What is your plan to get a shot against the champ?
GR: I’ll just keep working hard and testing myself. This will be my 10th UFC fight, and I’m constantly improving and constantly getting better. My goal is to be champ.
Right now, every girl looks up to Amanda [Nunes]. No one wants to f--- with Amanda. Nobody wants to get in the cage with her. That’s the point I want to reach.
SI: Post-fight on Saturday, how do you plan on celebrating?
GR: Since we’ve been in Vegas these past couple times, it’s become tradition to get pizza, wings and a couple joints, and chill back at the hotel. Then we’re flying home Sunday, and it’s back to work on Monday.